Two Cautionary Tales For The Cannabis Campaign
In the last week or so a furore has blown up around yet another claim that “”cannabis cures cancer”.
Foolishly, another cannabis campaign website has allowed the publication of claims that are inaccurate, misleading and illegal.
A notorious cannabis evangelist has been promoting his latest efforts in the manufacture of cannabis oil which he has christened pretentiously as “RSO”, an abbreviation for Rick Simpson oil. While there is some exciting anecdotal evidence around the use of cannabis oil and a lot of good science that supports the theoretical possibility of its effectiveness, claiming that cannabis cures cancer is irresponsible and extremely cruel both to those who have cancer and their families. It’s also very probably a criminal offence under the Cancer Act 1939 – a crime that has very real victims who deserve protection from such charlatans and confidence tricksters.
This is yet another example of how cannabis campaigners regularly sabotage their own efforts. There is overwhelming evidence of the efficacy of cannabis as medicine and this sort of wild exaggeration, overclaiming and behaving like snake oil salesmen does nothing but damage our cause.
Secondly, just yesterday, the Daily Mail published a story on a new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, led by Dr Alasdair MacKenzie of the University of Aberdeen. In typical, mendacious style, the Mail is leading the story with a claim that it knows full well is untrue – “…smoking cannabis causes psychosis and addiction in more than one-in-ten users”.
I have been in touch with Dr Mackenzie by email and I spoke to him on the telephone this morning. He is a gently spoken man who deplores the Daily Mail coverage and explained to me that the very reason he is pursuing his work is so that cannabis can more effectively be used as medicine. He volunteered the opinion to me that “…compared to alcohol and tobacco, cannabis is not that dangerous a drug at all”.
In fact, Dr MacKenzie has agreed to work with me in bringing a complaint against the Daily Mail for the misleading way in which it has reported his work. Imagine my horror then when at the end of our conversation he told me an all too familiar story. Since the publication of the Daily Mail story he has received more than 200 emails, mainly from people who are pro-cannabis and are attacking and abusing him using foul language, false accusations and entirely inaccurate interpretations of his work.
I am afraid that this is normal practice for a small but vociferous group of people who claim to be campaigning for cannabis law reform but are in fact the enemy. These foul-mouthed idiots are as least as much an obstacle to reform as is the Home Office, Peter Hitchens or MPs like Charles Walker and Nadine Dorries.
If we want to make progress towards reform, it is vital that we learn from events like these and recognise the enemy within.